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MES smoking issue/question

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
Sooo I've had my mes for about a year, I think my biggest problem is how do you get thin blue smoke out of one of these. If I load the tray up with wood and start it at the same time, it smokes like a mutha, and gets food too smokey. If I try to put a little in at a time, I have a hard time getting it to smoke after its warmed up. Exactly what's ideal here. Say for example you want to smoke a fatty for 4 hours, should it smoke the whole time(thin blue), or half, or?????
post #2 of 20
I think that the method for an electric is a little different than the perception of thin blue when smoking with propane, charcoal or wood. I put a handful of chips in the smoke tray every half hour to an hour for the first part of my smoke. Usually until the meat reaches 140 or until I feel like I have added enough wood. I have also started putting in a small piece of lump charcoal in with the chips as this seems to help with the temp and the smoke. I use a propane and a stick burner and the method of adding smoke to the cook is very different. When you first put chips in the MES it fills up with smoke. I try and keep it so that you can still see the meat. I have the window to aid me in that. The thin blue smoke is ideal when dealing with the stick burner and the propane as it applies to the intensity of the heat along with the amount of wood. The MES is never going to get any hotter than when the element is on so I think to gauge your smoke properly you have to look at the amount of smoke coming out of the smoker, not so much the color. When I first got my MES I over smoked the first couple of times. It just isn't built to handle a large amount of wood at a time. Much better to add small amounts of chips as needed to keep a nice thin smoke coming out the top.
post #3 of 20
consider using chunks instead of chips. I use both. For longer smokes and smokes that are at higher temps the chunks work well. Burn longer. You get that first burst of white smoke but they settle down nice and smoke for at least an hour or two.
post #4 of 20
What ^^^^ said, works for me also.
post #5 of 20
Thread Starter 
O.k. thanks guys, sounds like thin blue smoke isn't exactly a specalty of a MES. I've tried larger chunks too, it seemed to help a little, I think mostly because they didn't burn all the way. Seems like one tray full and it's borderline too smokey to eat. I'll try to spread out the time when I put the chips in....it just seems like last time I tried that, I had a hard time getting any smoke after the initial warm up. I guess I'll keep experimenting.
post #6 of 20
You don't need a full tray, just put 1 or 2 small chunks at a time. I use an old cleaver to split my chunks in half or thirds.
post #7 of 20
This is definitely the way to go. Smaller amounts more often is better than large amounts less often.

I like the cleaver idea too. This last time I got a couple of Cherry logs, sliced it with a miter saw in about 1" slices and then some quick easy whacks with the hatchet for chunks.
post #8 of 20
I don't know which MES you have the 30" or 40"? I have the 40", what has already been said is accurate, if using chips, I put in about 1/3 cup, its not a lot. I soak my chips others here don't agree, but honestly, they start right up within a 2 or 3 minutes. Again talking chips here, some bags of chips have a vast assortment of chips sizes, so I use a strainer, this gets a very even size of chips and more consistent results in burn time and smoke.

Again I only get about 1/3 cup no more than 1/2 cup. That is to start, and the smoke is initially white but settles in about 15 minutes to TBS. If only chips I add chips about every 30-45 minutes. If you want more smoke but don't want to have the bitter over smoked tastes, you can go with 1/2 cup but when you put the chips in the tray, make sure they are evenly distributed so when you rotate the chip tray, it dumps the not in one pile but fairly evenly in the burner tray. This isn't exact you have to play with it to find out the max your smoker/burner tray can effectively keep going.

I mainly use chips and chunks. My first 15-20 minutes is with chips only, then I add 2 or 3 (1 x 1 x 1 chunks) if you use 3 chunks evenly distribute across the tray. If you are using uneven chunks remove the tray and use tongs to drop the chunks in then replace the tray, making sure it rotates and moves freely. When the smoke starts to die off I then put a few chips and 2 chunks. Time will depend on how efficient of burn you are getting.

Do you always clean the burning tray? Take a wire brush or BBQ wire brush and brush out all the buildup, down to the metal. This will help the chips burn better. Ok here is one last tip and some may agree or may not. I do a minimum preheat to 270 deg 1 hour in the summer had 2+ hours in the winter. The primary reason is so all the metal mass will be thoroughly heated and when you add meat, recovery is much faster and the MES will hold temp better during the smoking process. But a by-product is the burning tray will be very hot, try to make sure the element is on when you add the first wood chips/chunks after you have loaded your meat, there should be no problem with ignition.
post #9 of 20
Thread Starter 
Some killer info guys thanks, among other things it sounds like I need to trim back on the wood and try to spread it out over the 1st half or so of the smoke. And yes my smoker may need to be cleaned slightlyPDT_Armataz_01_03.gif
post #10 of 20
You can also increase the air flow during the white smoke phase to reduce the over smoked or creosote taste that can develop. One way is to pull the chip loader out a 1/4 of the way. You will visibly see the smoke moving faster out of the vent. I've been playing with an exhaust fan on my vent and have used it during this white smoke phase then shut it off once the smoke settles down. Smoked some salmon last night with Alder. 2 and a half hours at 175*, 1/2 cups of alder chips very 50 mins or so. Turned out great.
post #11 of 20
I start the smoker and then when its almost reached the proper temp I add some chunks. Because its not to temp yet the element is pumping out the max of heat. This is where the smoke is white. By the time it gets to temp the wood has settled down and is now pumping out the thin blue. Thats when I add the meat.

If you can detect any smoke at all coming out the MES vent the smoker is full of smoke. Opening the door will reveal far more smoke in there than the vent would indicate. It always suprises me how much.

When I add chips via the loader there is a small rush of air thru the opening and out the vent which gives a small temp drop. Which in turn causes the element to heat up the new wood. I have no trouble keeping the interior full of thin blue.

I use very little wood over the entire smoke rather than a lot at first then none. The MES is a wood miser.
post #12 of 20
This is dead on with my experience. It always surprises me too at the amount of smoke that rushes out when I open the door even though there is barely any trickling out the vent.

I add about 8 chips every 45 minutes for the duration of the smoke and it seems to work great. May buy a bag of chunks once my bag of chips dwindles down and see how that goes. Would be nice if I could spread it out to every 1.5 hours instead of every 45 minutes.
post #13 of 20
I think the initial burst of white smoke in the beginning is steam from the wood and water pan. I can see the steam on the window and wipe it off. It only takes a second. Not all white, is smoke, may be steam.

Good luck!!
post #14 of 20
I agree. I have opened the MES long after I've added any wood and lots of steam. I just think the electrics are a different animal. If I want to leave my MES unattended smoking for hours I fire up the smoke daddy I have installed. It works excellent. If I'm gonna be around I find myself just adding a small handful of chips every half hour to 45 minutes instead of firing up the smoke daddy and I always get plenty of smoke flavor.
post #15 of 20
Smoke Daddy is the bomb, I wish I had invested in one, I would guess it would produce consistent results once you get it dialed in.

I don't think I agree about the white being steam. It is very clear that each time you add wood chips you get white smoke and after the chips have burned a bit, the white turns into TBS.
post #16 of 20
I wasn't saying it is always steam, but I can quit putting in chips for hours and go to check temp and get a huge amount of smoke out of the door and it will be coming out of the vent. Has to be steam.
post #17 of 20
Some great advice from these guys. My personal experiance with the MES is right along with adding small amounts of chips every 45 minutes, but I do soak mine first. My experiance with chunks is I can only use them when it's a hot smoke. 225+ If I am doing sausage or something at lower temps I have to use chips. I also only smoke until the meat is up to 140. Likely a matter of personal taste as to how much smoky flavor there is.
post #18 of 20
I like to prewarm mine to get the waterpan up to temperature before the meat goes in.

While it's preheating, about 30 minutes before I'm ready to add the meat, I add 2 charcoal briquets to the pan and a few small chunks of wood. This way by the time I add the meat I've got a bit of ash and glowing charcoal in the pan to keep the chips smoking when the element is off.

Works very nicely.

post #19 of 20
I agree with Dave. We both have the glass door and I can see it condensating on the glass, especially in the beginning, at that time I will open the door and wipe it off.
post #20 of 20
Thread Starter 
Some killer ideas for me to try, thanks guys. Fwiw I have no glass window on my mes. I wish it was going to be a little warmer this weekend, I'm ready for a rematch now.lol
As far as the water thing, I haven't put the tray in since the 1st time I used it. What ever off flavor I'm getting, or was getting(creosote, I guess) the water seemed to make it worse. At least 50% of what I usually smoke is jerky anyway. Again.. thanks for all the great tips.PDT_Armataz_01_37.gif
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